Who really benefits from a grant writing plan? Recent years have seen a flurry of grant opportunities become available. Most of us are familiar with the ads that promise grant dollars for going back to school. Many of us have also seen promotions for free grant money, only to realize that the qualifications are very narrowly defined for a select few. The grant writing plan is not for the individual, but the organization that requires funding for their long term vision. These marketing tactics represent the low hanging fruit in a booming industry that aids nonprofits and small business. So, what is the value of a grant writing plan?
Great Tool for Interdepartmental Activity – Especially when the grant writing team and the Program team are completely independent, it is crucial to the success of the grant proposal that there is a well-defined plan in place. The grant writing team has to describe for the funder why this organization provides the best Program for their contribution dollars. Because funders operate on different schedules, the grant writing team needs to map out a proposal schedule. The schedule should be extended for more than two years. This detail will help to keep the program scope and timelines in check. While this seems like a relatively easy task to report on the progress of the program, it can be challenging for both the grant writers and the program team.
Provides Grant Proposal Details – In addition to detailing the program mission and goals, the grant writer has to convey to the funders how the program will run better with their support. The organization's or charity's history providing similar programs plays a key role in telling this story. It is also critical for the grant writer to be able to create a timeline for key information gathering, interviews and proposal drafts, inside the plan. A good plan will undoubtedly include how the program will be measured for success, and these goals may need to be realigned with the prospective funder's goals. The best plans allow for the exclusive preparation of each grant application and proposal; cookie cutter proposals are very unprofessional and ineffective.
A Means to Funding, Not an End – Finally, an effective plan will include an analysis of the program costs and budget. The budget should be taken at least three years into the future to reflect the resources needed to achieve both short term goals and program growth. The plan should reflect all the program's fundraising activities. Similarly to a business plan, the grant writing plans is a living document. As the executive interviews reveal additional strategic detail, the plan should be adjusted and shared with the program team. Newly engaged funders will also warrant plan adjustments.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney